This is the second in a series on how to best use the scraps from fruits and vegetables in the kitchen. In the first installment we talked about pineapple.
Not only are tomatoes one of the most popular fruits in the garden (yeah, they’re fruit, not vegetable), they are a lot of fun to grow in the urban garden environment too. If you are growing your own heirloom tomatoes or buying good quality heirlooms from your local farmers market, you can turn those kitchen scraps into new tomato plants, provided you know just a little about how it all works. Let’s start with the tomato goo. You know, that gelatinous blob of stuff that many recipes tell you to remove when you are preparing the tomato? Yeah, that stuff is gold. We need to reduce that puddle of goo into a stockpile of usable seed, but it isn’t as simple as dropping it in the ground, at least when it comes to tomato seeds. Here’s what you need to do:
- Scoop the inner membrane of a fully ripened tomato (the “goo”) into a clean jar and cover it with about an inch of water.
- Cover the jar opening with a paper towel, coffee filter or piece of cheesecloth and secure it with an elastic band.
- Place the jar in an out of the way location and leave it along for 4-5 days.
- When you return to the jar, you will see a rather ugly layer of mold floating atop the water. It may gross you out or win you a “Coolest Mom” contest, depending on your kids, but this is both natural and important in the process of saving tomato seeds. This step in the process breaks down the jelly-like substance that protects the seed, making them viable for growing.
- Skim the mold from the surface and pour the seeds into a strainer. Rinse with cool water and use your fingers to remove the last bits of goo and debris so that all of the seeds are completely clean.
- Spread the seeds on a paper towel, paper plate or sheet of newspaper and allow them to air dry for a few days before packing them in clearly-labeled containers.
Once you have followed these steps, your seed is ready for growing and you can start these tomato seeds as you would any other.